Jazz Legend Marian McPartland Among Honorary Degree Recipients at Hamilton College - Hamilton College

Jazz Legend Marian McPartland Among Honorary Degree Recipients at Hamilton College

Jazz pianist Marian McPartland, who will perform at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute's Concert in the Court series on Saturday, April 26, will be among the four people to receive honorary degrees at Hamilton College's 185th commencement on Sunday, May 25.

The other recipients include critic-writer Albert Murray, Newell Company Chairman of the Board Daniel C. Ferguson, and former U.S. senator Bill Bradley, who will deliver the commencement address. The ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Steuben Field, or in the event of inclement weather, in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House.

The baccalaureate address will be delivered on Saturday, May 24, by Rev. John Croghan, Newman chaplain at Hamilton and administrator of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Clinton. The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. on the Main Quadrangle.

Mary McPartland
New York, N.Y.

An unlikely jazz legend, English-born McPartland is one of the few women in instrumental jazz to have achieved both unconditional respect of her fellow musicians and a substantial popular reputation. Classically trained at London's Guildhall School of Music, she left prior to graduation to join a four-piano vaudeville act, and later performed for British and American troops during World War II. She married American jazz trumpeter and bandleader Jimmy McPartland in 1946 and moved to the U.S.

Gradually overcoming the resistance of American jazz musicians to her nationality and gender, she established her own jazz trio, which became a virtual combo-in-residence at New York City's Hickory House in the 1960s. Today, she performs at major jazz festivals and clubs and is known for her elegant style and technique. Among her best known compositions are In the Days of our Love, Twilight World and Ambiance. She has hosted the Peabody Award-winning radio show Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz for almost 20 years on National Public Radio.

Albert Murray
New York, N.Y.

According to novelist Walker Percy, Murray's first book, The Omni Americans, published in 1970, "may be the most important book on white-black relations in the United States, indeed on American culture, published in this generation." Though he has not achieved the fame of his friend Ralph Ellison, Murray has emerged as one of America's most influential cultural figures, and has been called one of the foremost thinkers to appear in American letters over the last 25 years.

As a student at the Tuskegee Institute in the 1930s, Murray immersed himself in the works of Hemingway, Faulkner and Mann, and nurtured what he called his "consuming passion" for the music of jazz pioneers Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Between periods of active military service (he retired as a major in 1962), he taught at Tuskegee and earned a master's degree from New York University in 1948.

Murray's influence now extends well beyond his reputation as a writer and critic. He recently helped create "Jazz at Lincoln Center," and serves as intellectual godfather to some of the key young black American artists and critics now working. Murray has held a series of visiting professorships at several schools, including Columbia University and Barnard College.

Daniel Ferguson
Freeport, Ill.

A 1948 Hamilton graduate, Ferguson earned an M.B.A. from Stanford University in 1958, and took over his family's business, the Newell Company, in 1965. At that time, it was a $14 million drapery hardware supplier. One year after joining the company, Ferguson made his first acquisition, developing a strategy based on his intention to build a strong multi-product line, and over the past 30 years he has overseen Newell's meteoric growth into a $3 billion housewares giant.

Having acquired such businesses as glassware manufacturer Anchor Hocking, school supplies manufacturer Sanford and hair accessories manufacturer Goody, Newell is now a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company sells to discount chains, superstores, warehouse clubs, home centers and other retailers. Wal-Mart is Newell's biggest customer. Ferguson's keys to building a business are leadership, performance, strategic focus and profit orientation. He recently retired as the company's chief executive officer, and currently serves as chairman of the board.

Bill Bradley
Montclair, N.J.

In 1965, following a spectacular academic and athletic career at Princeton, Bradley spurned an offer to play for the New York Knicks professional basketball team, opting instead to continue his studies as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in England. Two years later, in 1967, Bradley joined the Knicks and over the next 10 years was a starter for two NBA championship teams and one championship runner-up squad.

A year after retiring from professional basketball, Bradley was elected to the first of his three terms in the U.S. Senate, representing New Jersey. Bradley's career in public life has been guided by four principles: restoring economic and personal security to American families, strengthening civil society in ways that go beyond government, protecting the country's national heritage, and rethinking America's role in the world.

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